"Rev. Nocents' Toothbrush"

This is a corollary of Occam's Razor, the principle that the preferred explanation for a phenomenon is the simplest sufficient one. Rev. Nocents' Toothbrush represents the fallacy that simplicity itself is sufficient, a profound misunderstanding of Occam's Razor. Any explanation is simplistic, not simple, if it fails to account for all the facts (see Occam's Razor).

The Toothbrush has been phrased this way: "If the scientific explanation is too hard to understand, make up a deceptively simple fable." Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, points to a good example: to explain the origin of life on Earth, some people argue that it is actually harder to believe the hugely complex process of evolution by natural selection over such an unimaginably long time as described by molecular biologists, than to accept a miraculous creation like the one described in Genesis. "Creation is a simpler explanation," they assert, "so according to Occam's Razor, we should accept the Creation story."

But Dawkins argues that they have replaced a complex explanation with an even more complex one: a single entity, God, powerful and skilled enough to design all of life as we know it and implement the design. We're forced to ask the followup question, "So who 'designed' God? Or did God evolve?"

Suggesting God as a "simple explanation" of the origin of species asks us to accept an even more unlikely explanation than natural selection. It's not a simpler explanation at all, because it doesn't actually explain the facts. It's just simplistic. They haven't used Occam's Razor, but Rev. Nocents' Toothbrush.

The name "Rev. Nocents" refers to an imaginary "Reverend Macon Nocents of Kansas," a personification of the harmful (nocent) illogic of fabulous explanations of natural phenomena. An example is the conflict between the scientific theory of evolution and a literal reading of the book of Genesis in the Bible. "Rev. Nocents of Kansas" alludes to occasional efforts of the Kansas Board of Education to eliminate or de-emphasize the theory of evolution in the public school curriculum (article). The KBOE's membership often reflects the influence of literalist religious views, and this influence occasionally achieves majority status (article).

The term "Rev. Nocents' Toothbrush" was first coined in a discussion on facebook.

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